Journalism & Ethics in Social Media Era

[To Mark International Media Ethics Day]

Media is facing hard times. It’s not only receiving blows from advertisers but also from the Internet. The Internet has emerged as a tough competitor, and without money-generating model, media are forced only to spend on online media to remain competitive.

And, through social media, individuals are expressing their dissatisfaction over media –from questioning priority to lamenting coverage to ridiculing news.

Media has never come under so much pressure – walking over a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the advertisers and influential politicians are pushing media towards compromise over ethical standards.

On the other, the people are expecting better and ethical coverage; and in case of dissatisfaction, are using social media to ridicule the media linking to responsible persons’ profile.

The newsroom has been openly being asked by management to compromise for survival; and the newsroom is being threatened of survival by citizens if they compromise.

But for journalism to survive as a profession; as the fourth estate of a nation; and as a mean of public service, there is no other way than to push further with ethical practices.

There is only one solution for the journalism in this situation and that’s the simplest anyone can ever imagine: going back to the basics of journalism by following the basic principles of journalism, by regaining the faith of citizens by engaging them meaningfully and by keeping marketing department at distance from newsroom.

In Nepal, social media hasn’t been a strong opinion makers of the society but they have created irks from editors. The individuals in social media questioned popular TV anchor Bijaya Kumar’s answering to a mobile call during an interview and forced him to come up with explanation.

The individuals ridiculed Kantipur in an irritating way when they published news stating that a forest official arrested people chopping down trees by looking at Google Maps and now they are questioning why there isn’t any bad news about a popular telecomm company despite evidences of tax invasion.

And, it was the individuals who unearthed plagiarism by a young reporter in Kantipur daily and forced the editor to apologize (twice); and they are keeping vigilance over media’s every sentence for errors.

No matter how irritating it sounds by newsroom chiefs, most of who are now on Facebook and Twitter, the individuals are helping media by pushing them towards accuracy and balance. The criticism may sound harsh, but it will nevertheless push journalism on better path of survival.

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